One of my Lent devotions This particular week contained This particular paragraph:
Therefore, let no confusion remain. Lent can be not self-improvement. Lent can be not self-denial for the sake of some moral gratification. At its most basic, Lent can be about awaiting death. that will can be the uncomfortable as well as also also unwelcome reminder that will we will grieve as well as also also we will die. just for This particular reason, we can embrace the pain rather than avoid that will. We can lead one another in lament over death’s temporary reign.
Jesus’ disciples inside the 40 days prior to his crucifixion certainly were not, for the most part, anticipating a march towards death. They were still expecting the angel calvary, the miraculous zap to all enemies, the dramatic vindication. Even as Jesus talked about losing your life to save that will, taking up the cross, being a servant . . . they were arguing about seating arrangements inside the palace. that will can be me, too. Lament as well as also also embracing inevitable pain all sound noble in a devotion. yet the actual determination to keep moving into areas of suffering, to keep facing death without fear, well, that will’s another story. Just when I think we are faithful, that will becomes excruciatingly hard.
For us, the walk towards death occurs every morning when we get up as well as also also go to another day at the hospital. There can be literal death, sometimes way too many. Yesterday I lost four patients, today so far two. Women arrive hourly with preterm twins, using a baby delivered on a bus still attached by her cord, using a convulsing lethargic infant, with an unconscious one-year-old deflated by diarrhea. There’s no screening here, no shielding, the raw effects of poverty as well as also also stress as well as also also physical labor as well as also also not-enough-to-eat just wash up on This particular doorstep over as well as also also over as well as also also over. Yesterday as we tried to round as well as also also review the 38 babies we already had admitted in Newborn Unit, a nurse through radiology walked in using a rough wool blanket, inside was a 885 gram 26-week grey-blue limp newborn with no sign of life except a barely perceptible slow pulse. The mom had been sent for an ultrasound because of abdominal pain, surprise, that will was labor as well as also also This particular was a baby. While I got the heart rate up as well as also also some response as well as also also breathing initiated the prognosis was very poor, as well as also also I had to decide to just leave This particular one on oxygen by pressure in an incubator while I ran to the operating theatre where Scott was delivering another 985 gram very modest-for-age 32-week baby to save the life of the mother. I literally walked in as the baby arrived on the scene, as well as also also that will one also needed a lot of resuscitation, as well as also also by the time I got him stabilized on his airway the some other baby was dead. as well as also also so that will went. We lost a 1-week old readmitted who had meningitis, as well as also also another baby with severe lung damage through a too-slow too-stressed birth with meconium, as well as also also a 29-week baby who delivered at home as well as also also was brought in infected as well as also also jaundiced. as well as also also then 25-week twins, whose mother worked hard manual labor on farms.
yet the walk towards death occurs in subtle ways, too. When we walk into that will hospital, we never know what the staffing will be (38 babies, one senior nurse as well as also also one brand brand-new one brought over through a dispensary to help on NBU, 50-some kids on the ward with two nurses as well). The patient with asthma can be just not improving . . only to find out no treatments had been given. There can be always something: your colleague has to go to a meeting, pick up a document, appear in a court case. The government can be fighting with the university as well as also also interns are delayed in posting. We’re out of almost every antibiotic, or none of the labs are done because the machine can be broken. There are no gloves, or no IV cannulas. Or bigger picture, there are protests in Nairobi, or roads closed, or political uncertainties. There are wipe-you-out issues with people you care about. There are rebel threats on borders, or potentially fatal illnesses.
as well as also also death comes to certain dreams, or hopes. Like not being with your med student son when he has surgery, or your soldier son on his pre-deployment vacation, or ever seeing your youngest son playing sports, or being able to reassure your graduating yet-to-be employed daughter that will she can always live with you for a while (she can, yet that will’s a long journey!). Never having seen the rooms/homes/dorms of 3 of the 4 kids. Moms who we never spend a birthday with. Sisters who do almost all the attention for our mothers. Planning that will needs to happen yet keeps getting pushed off to late evenings, funds that will need raising.
I guess This particular week I’ve just been reflecting that will the determination to keep going back into that will fray, to keep plugging on in hard places, wears one down. In my head I do believe that will’s what Jesus calls us to. OK some people glorify God by being stars, speakers, well-known, moving in circles of the powerful, yet that will’s not genuinely our jam. God asked us, we believe, to go to very dysfunctional places where injustice skews the outcomes, where every. single. day. something brand-new doesn’t work.
So later inside the week, in another devotional time, This particular verse popped out in Psalm 25 (v 10): All the paths of the LORD are mercy as well as also also truth . . .David wrote that will, David who suffered hunger, who suffered betrayal, who committed adultery as well as also also murder, who lost as well as also also regained his Kingdom, whose heart was broken by his son. David wrote about humility, as well as also also then asked to be taught God’s ways.
So the Lent rubber meets the road, day after day, in our lives. Can we accept that will the quiet plod of faithfulness inside the dirty corners of the earth, even when that will can be frustrating as well as also also exhausting as well as also also unrewarding as well as also also costly, can be a path of mercy as well as also also truth? that will being called to borders, to refugees, to cities, to isolated rural areas, to places where people are suspicious or hostile or demanding or incessantly persistently needy, can be the very place where God pours out that will mercy on us, as well as also also shows us the truth of who God can be?
Let’s lament the 6 babies who slipped away through life here inside the last day as well as also also a half, as well as also also the uncounted others all around us. Let’s lament the broken jagged edges that will centuries of sinful unjust choices have created. Let’s support each some other as we call out the false Gospels of continuous triumph, always winning, comfort as well as also also ease as our birthrights. Let’s challenge each some other to keep walking towards the margins. Let’s look for hints of mercy as well as also also truth, even as we walk straight into shadow, truly believing that will This particular movement towards death paradoxically leads us to life.